ADVENT is about the art of waiting. BUT … holiday decorations have been on the shelves in our “box stores” since well before Hallowe’en, and the world will declare that every day after Thanksgiving is “the Christmas season.” We may be tempted to do otherwise, BUT … now is the time to slow down and “lean in” to each other – – together.

Our ancient sisters and brothers gathered in the darkness to wait for the light, and they created a centerpiece in their living space for an Advent Wreath. How did they do it? They removed a wheel from their hay-wagon and placed cut evergreens and four candles around it to make a wreath. What would it be like for us to take a wheel off our car, truck, or SUV? If instead of rushing to and fro, we gathered our family to readings of prophecy and promise, and maybe even to sing? But … Wait! This takes four weeks!

In the dead of winter, we need one another and we need signs that the sun will shine again, and that the scourge of the virus disease will go away. Like our ancient parents, who gathered together for courage and in hope that the light will return, we gather weekly to hear the Word that does not pass away, and hope that the Light will break our darkness and become a beacon of the promise of a Savior. The Son will come again.

Advent, week One, we’re reminded of our deep need for God to restore and save. The Psalmody helps us cry: “Come and save us!” Psalm 80.1-7 And Mark, our gospel story teller for this year, and whose messages are famous for brevity and immediacy, warns us to keep alert and stay awake St. Mark 13.24-37.

In week Two, we’re urged to re-order our lives. Isaiah proclaims “Every valley shall be lifted up, and every mountain and hill be made low, and the rough places a plain.” Isaiah 40.1-4. Imagine what that would do to the topography of Richland Township? Clearly, also our souls are in need of a Civil Engineer in all we do! As John the Baptist excavated a roadway for the Lord, so do we. St. Mark 1.1-8. We prepare our hearts and homes. Not in haste, but in love and with longing.

In week Three, Isaiah promises good news to the captives. Isaiah 61.1-4. We who walk in darkness and are stuck in the muck of winter, especially in this season of waiting and watching, also rejoice. John the Baptizer was not stuck in winter, but he was wandering in the wilderness and breaking forth to testify to the Light. St. John 1.19-28. We are called to join the baptized of all generations to testify to the One who brings light and life to a broken world.

And now, Mary is the focus of week Four as the angel Gabriel tells her that God will keep a promise to continue the reign of David. St. Luke 1.26-38. Although quite perplexed, Mary ponders the angel’s word and with confidence she is able to say: “count on me” to the continuation of God’s salvation story.

Let us challenge one another during this global virus epidemic to honor the dark days just now. As twenty-first century people we’re not good at either darkness or slowing down, or even just waiting. We don’t even know darkness anymore – we’ve banished it with electricity, 24-7. And we certainly cannot wait, especially now in “safely distanced” lines at the grocery, pharmacy, and post office.

Advent is waiting. Advent is Incubation: crops will grow; grapes will become wine; wheat dough will rise; and, an author’s words will eventually become a published novel. And — wait — a Baby will be Born! It will be Christmas! But not yet ….

The Reverend Dr. David A. Genszler

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